The Red Sox will head to New York for a three-game set against their arch-rivals the Yankees Tuesday.
So far this year, the matchup has been dominated by the Red Sox, who hold a 5-1 record against New York. Entering New Yankee Stadium trailing New York by just a game in the A.L. East, the Sox will be looking to continue this trend and gain at least a share of first place in the division after giving it away with a four-game losing streak to end their marathon of games in May.
The good news for the Red Sox is that they set up their rotation with this series in mindt. The bad news is that even the best laid of plans sometimes go awry.
Boston Red Sox (33-26) vs. New York Yankees (33-24)
Tuesday, June 7, 7:05 p.m.
Jon Lester (7-2, 3.94 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (4-4, 3.34 ERA)
Just when Sox fans thought it was safe to get excited about a Jon Lester start again, the lefty allowed seven earned runs to the White Sox in under six innings. So maybe May was the new April this year. Hopefully that makes June the new May. In his last start against the Yankees (in, of course, May), Lester allowed four earned runs in six innings.
Freddy Garcia is having quite a year for himself, having never allowed more than four earned runs in an outing. If there's one team that's given him trouble, though, it's the lefty-heavy Red Sox, who took a run off of him in his first appearance out of the bullpen, and then five more (four earned) in a 5.1 inning outing in the very same game Lester allowed four.
Wednesday, June 8, 7:05 p.m.
Tim Wakefield (2-1, 4.40 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (6-3, 3.86 ERA)
Here's where the plan went a bit off, as Clay Buchholz will be forced to miss his start against the Yankees due to lingering concerns over his back.
Both Tim Wakefield and A.J. Burnett appear to be experiencing something of a renaissance in their careers, with numbers that neither fan base could wholly expect coming into the year. Whether either starter's is sustainable is another question entirely.
For Wakefield, this year has been a perfect example of the coin flip nature of Wakefield. He's allowed eight runs once, four earned twice, and then one two-run appearance before you hit the ones and zeroes. Even looking at just his starts, the contrast is pronounced. Of course, that means that he's likely just one bad flip of the coin away from a much higher ERA.
Burnett is also getting by somewhat on luck, but his is the more conventional time. First there's the usual stuff, like the low BABIP, but there's also the fact that he's faced a lot of bad lineups, and tends to fair rather worse against the better ones. However, while the Red Sox certainly fit into that "better" category, with Burnett's reliance on off-speed pitches, his reverse splits could bother the Red Sox.
Thursday, June 9, 7:05 p.m.
Josh Beckett (4-2, 2.01 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (7-3, 2.80 ERA)
Josh Beckett has been one of the best pitchers at putting up zeroes so far this year, but his recent performances leave some cause for concern. In his last four starts, Beckett has given up 13 walks while striking out just 18 batters. In his last game against Oakland, Beckett completely lost control of his fastball in the later innings. The good news is that the Yankees tend to bring out the best in Josh, who has 14 scoreless innings with 19 strikeouts and only 3 walks against them so far this year.
His opponent in both matches, Sabathia, has been rather less impressive against the Red Sox, giving up six runs in 6.2 innings the last time the two teams faced eachother. Since then, though, he's been redefining the role of workhorse, throwing at least eight innings in each of his last four outings. The Sox will just hope that's tired him out more than gotten him on a roll.